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Turkey, Turkish Cypriots sign water pipeline deal

by Staff Writers
Nicosia (AFP) July 19, 2010
Turkey signed an agreement Monday with the the breakaway Turkish statelet in Cyprus on a long-standing project to build a pipeline under the Mediterranean to supply water to the island's north.

The framework agreement envisages pumping 75 million cubic metres of water a year to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) through a conduit running from Mersin on Turkey's Mediterranean coast to the Gecitkoy area, near the northern Cypriot port of Kyrenia.

The construction of the pipeline and the related facilities on the two shores are due to be completed in four years.

Turkey will foot the bill of the 450 million-dollar (348 million-euro) project.

The agreement was signed by Turkish Cypriot prime minister Irsen Kucuk and Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek who is visiting the TRNC for the 36th anniversary Tuesday of Ankara's invasion of the island's north.

Cyprus has been divided along ethnic lines since 1974, when Turkey seized its northern third in response to an Athens-engineered coup in Nicosia aimed at uniting the island with Greece.

The TRNC is recognized only by Turkey while the Greek Cypriot south of the island enjoys international recognition.

Turkey, which keeps some 30,000 troops in the island's north, has long propped up the internationally isolated enclave.

The project to build a water pipeline to Cyprus under the Mediterranean has been around for years and has been promoted by successive governments in Ankara as the solution to resolve the chronic water shortage in the TRNC.

In the late 1990s, Turkey sought to transport water to the island in huge plastic balloons, but the project soon proved inefficient and was abandoned.

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